19th June 2011
Jason wrote this for Malcolm when we got married after being together for 19 years. It is long, but worth the read.
"Poem for Malcolm on his Wedding Day" by Jay Di Giulio (MFA)
Drill Sergeant Mayberry yelled at us
that June afternoon at Fort Benning.
Hot Georgia sun burning salt and ammonia
from sweat into my back, forearms straining
to do just one more push-up, one more and
make the yelling stop.
Later he told the platoon, all of us gathered
that we could all make it, all we had to do
was focus on our names. He pointed to the slender
embroidery of his nametag, pointed to ours,
said, "Family is all that matters. When it gets tough
look at your nametag and remember what that name
means, remember what you came from."
Looking at mine, a delicate Di Giulio traced in black,
it meant nothing. A name attached to a couple
of phone calls, high hopes, disappointment.
Looked for a father in the idea of a father,
in my name,but never looked at anyone close.
Everything I ever learned about being a father
I learned at home, from you.
Remember Mom making bisquick pizza
and you two watching us eat,
waiting and waiting, hungry too
in those long Maine weeks at the end of the month.
Waiting to make sure we had enough to eat
before you'd take any food.
My first car, an Opal Manta
red as ambition and loud like you.
Test driving, it must have been an awful
car, but you fixed it, buffed it, made it
work in that "it just needs a" way
that only you can. I was so proud,
so free, the world opened the moment
I sat in the driver seat. All that driving since
then, who would have known we would all
end up just a few miles down the road?
Moving to new houses, new towns,
so often for me I feel like crab grass:
all grown up with roots that just crouch
under the surface. Any wind at all could
send me away. Friends a constant turnstile
of coming and going, too many sometimes
to count on a room full of hands. All gone.
The slide show that plays for me at night
in the desperate hours when I can't sleep
and it's too dark outside, flashes pictures
that are always the same warm blanket comfort
You, Mom, us
all together despite what the weather
people, money, lack of money, evil, laws, evil laws
anything can bring against us.
In your own, "In a pig's ass" way,
you have created for me these truths:
Wheelock is home.
I have two brothers who live near me.
My parents will be part of my life forever.
I will see them everyday.
I never wanted to be your child,
I thought I was too old when you came
to inherit your accent, the macgyveristic building
of a motor out of rubber bands, a car battery,
some solder, a few pieces of duct tape and spit,
I can never look like you.
But I hope you know,
when I think of Father, when I look at my name,
I think of you.
I am your son.